A jeep makes its way along one of the better parts of the Buffalo Pass road Wednesday afternoon. Planned work on the culvert could close the road by Aug. 15.

Photo by John F. Russell

A jeep makes its way along one of the better parts of the Buffalo Pass road Wednesday afternoon. Planned work on the culvert could close the road by Aug. 15.

Buffalo Pass open to summit, but not for long

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— For people who have been waiting for the unrelenting snow banks to allow the Buffalo Pass road to open up access to the Continental Divide north of Steamboat, it’s time to make plans.

Hahn’s Peak District Ranger Jamie Kingsbury confirmed Wednesday that Forest Road 60 is open to Summit Lake, but it’s likely to close down again by Aug. 15 for road construction.

“It’s open right now, so head up this weekend and go camping and have a great time, but our engineering department expects that the road will be closed at Dry Lake by Aug. 15,” Kingsbury said.

Buffalo Pass is used by backpackers, picnickers heading north into the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, and mountain bikers riding south on the Continental Divide Trail outside the wilderness. For backpackers in particular, the trailhead near Summit Lake allows them to hike deep into the wilderness without having to gain as much elevation on foot as they do at other wilderness trailheads.

During the upcoming road construction, the summit of the pass would still be accessible from the east side of the Park Range in North Park via Colorado Highway 14 and Jackson County Road 24. But the most convenient access from Steamboat Springs will be shut down at Dry Lake Campground for an indefinite period, Kingsbury said.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Ranger District in Walden confirmed Wednesday that it would be premature to attempt to drive over Buffalo Pass into North Park this weekend – the road is blocked by two substantial snowdrifts 8 miles from the eastern base of the pass.

Kingsbury said that in the long run, this summer’s construction project on the west approach to Buffalo Pass would make the road more passable for motorists.

The work involves the installation of 60 drainage culverts. Kingsbury told the Steamboat Today last year that until drainage issues on the dirt and gravel road are remedied, investments in road repairs will not hold up.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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